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S8 E11: Stepan Snigirev on Specter DIY & Free Open Source Software

Stepan Snigirev is the creator of Specter, a project which spawned one of the most popular software wallets for multisig setups (Specter Desktop), as well as the successful Specter DIY hardware wallet. As former academic researcher in quantum physics, he seeks to maximize everyone’s financial sovereignty with elegant and empowering free open source software.

Though I had heard about Specter and wanted to include the DIY hardware wallet in season 8 of the podcast, I wasn’t acquainted with Stepan’s personal contributions until Ben Arc made the introductions. I had the pleasure to meet an ambitious and talented developer who is held in high regard by his peers and is more concerned with the quality of his code than he is with public image or social media popularity.

As a matter of fact, Stepan Snigirev rarely tweets or responds to messages, but makes GitHub commits almost daily. He is also the creator and maintainer of micro-bitcoin and arduino-bitcoin: projects which aim to bring a lightweight version of the Bitcoin client on low-power devices.

During this interview, we talk about everything from the creation of Specter to the hardware requirements to build your own Specter DIY (hint: a general-purpose STM32F469I-DISCO development board, a case and a couple of cables will help you get set up). Stepan Snigirev also explains why PSBT is a broadly used standard, why users should build their own hardware wallets, and when is the right moment to start doing multisig setups.

And after the first hour, you can also hear us talk about the state of quantum computing (an academic research interest of Stepan’s) and the state of academia in fields such as physics and philosophy.

The interview should help you understand the open source ethos of the Specter project and some of the security steps that you should take to better protect your bitcoins.

Listen to Stepan Snigirev on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

The episode is also available on the dedicated page for the RSS feed. Which means that you can listen to this interview with Stepan Snigirev without having to register to any service, with greater privacy (please use the Tor browser for maximum anonymity), and with the option to download the audio file to your computer for offline listening.

If you’re as cautious as a cypherpunk and don’t want to tell a bunch of corporations what you’re interested in, then using this alternative is the most privacy-friendly and convenient. It’s also the source from where Apple Podcasts and Spotify source the files, so the quality is identical. And if you want to revive your old iPod Nano or Microsoft Zune to listen to the podcast in your car or at the gym, then just go to bitcoin-takeover.com/audio.

On the other hand, if you do use Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify, then please leave a feedback after listening. It only takes a minute of your time, but helps my work get noticed by others. Given the large amount of Bitcoin content, it’s easy for interviews to get lost and become hidden gems that only the most patient and persistent can discover. But given Stepan Snigirev’s brilliance and work ethic, it would be a shame if that happened.

The episode is also available on Podcasting 2.0 platforms such as Breez, Sphinx, and Podcastindex.

This Episode is Sponsored by Vaultoro and Wasabi Wallet!

Want to learn more about the values of the two companies? I have recorded episodes with both Joshua Scigala (Vaultoro CEO) and Nopara73 (Wasabi Wallet creator).

If you would like to support the show and you’re into trading hard money like bitcoin, gold, and silver, then sign up to Vaultoro using my referral link. Vaultoro will help you forget about shitcoins and focus on sound money. They also allow you topick up your gold bars or have them shipped to your address, so you don’t have to trust any custodian with your money. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own decisions and I am not providing you financial advice.

And if you would like to increase your network and transaction privacy, you should download Wasabi Wallet on your computer. It routes your connection through the Tor network to hide your IP, it downloads block filters so you validate your own transactions locally without appealing to a trusted third party, and it also connects to your own full node to boost your financial sovereignty. Wasabi is best known for its link-breaking CoinJoins, which are giving a hard time even to the EuroPol. Use the wallet to increase your financial sovereignty, but don’t do any illegal stuff – use your financial sovereignty with responsibility (also read the Wasabi terms of service).

Interview Time Stamps:

2:30 – Intro

3:30 – How did Stepan Snigirev come up with the idea of Specter?

9:39 – Why is PSBT so popular and why does the Specter DIY wallet use it?

13:00 – Why should users build their own hardware wallets?

16:20 – Why should users build their own Specter DIY as opposed to other wallets?

20:40 – What do you need to buy to build your own Specter DIY hardware wallet and how much does it cost?

28:10 – What is Stepan Snigirev’s take on secure element chips and the tradeoffs involved in attaining physical security?

38:30 – When should people start using multisig setups?

46:15 – Shamir Secret Sharing + Multisig

47:20 – How advanced are today’s quantum computers and how long will it take until they can break Bitcoin’s elliptic curve signatures?

57:30 – Why did Stepan Snigirev leave academia to get full time into Bitcoin development?

1:08:00 – How and where should newbies start when they get into bitcoin and want to secure their funds?

1:18:30 – Why Ledger requires connection to the company’s backend

1:19:45 – In defense of hardware wallets and why most users should get one

1:28:50 – Paying specialists to verify open source software for you

1:30:45 – The ethos and development of free open source software

1:43:20 – How can people follow Stepan Snigirev and/or contribute to Specter?

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I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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